What Does Trump Have Against Breastfeeding? - Cortney O'Brien

Frederick Owens
July 10, 2018

A New York Times piece published on Sunday about the purported opposition to breastfeeding by the U.S.at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, is stoking controversy. The United States and many countries around the world now abide by the International Code on Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, a health policy framework for promoting breastfeeding adopted in 1981. The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don't believe a woman should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty, ' he wrote on Twitter on Monday.

At first, the USA delegation tried to just water down the language in the resolution, but when that didn't work, they began to threaten and bully countries who were supporting the resolution.

US officials threatened Ecuador with punitive trade measures after the country introduced an worldwide resolution that encouraged breastfeeding during a global health conference, according to The New York Times.

The US delegation threatened retribution on trade and military aid to Ecuador to get the nation to drop the resolution, according to the Times, and said at least a dozen countries also avoided the resolution out of fear of the US.

A Russian diplomat told the Times that his country's decision to advance the breastfeeding resolution was an easy one to make. It added that "not all women are able to breastfeed", and they "should have the choice and access to alternatives".

The Americans also sought, unsuccessfully, to thwart a World Health Organization effort aimed at helping poor countries obtain access to lifesaving medicines. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

The State Department declined the Times' request to comment and said it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations. It simply acknowledges the scientific consensus that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for infants, and works to regulate infant formula manufacturers so that they are not lying to consumers.

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The Trump administration's slavish devotion to corporate profits and their contempt for the health and well-being of Americans and people throughout the world is beyond appalling.

During the same Geneva meeting where the breastfeeding resolution was debated, the United States succeeded in removing statements supporting soda taxes from a document that advises countries grappling with soaring rates of obesity.

Hundreds of government delegates at the assembly expected the resolution to be approved swiftly.

The United States tried to stop a pro-breastfeeding resolution at the United Nations, but ultimately failed. Taking a break from being an all-purpose bogeyman, Russia, we're told, saved the day and the United States was thwarted.

Elisabeth Sterken, director of the Infant Feeding Action Coalition in Canada, said four decades of research have established the importance of breast milk, which provides essential nutrients as well as hormones and antibodies that protect newborns against infectious disease.

The 2016 discussion was about extending the ban of marketing food supplements to children as old as three years of age.

The move reflected the United States government's championing of the $US70 billion ($94 billion) baby formula industry - mainly based in the USA and Europe.

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